#20 – How can I help my folks decide if it’s time for them to move?

Click here to see the prior item in this series:  Should I encourage my parents to get more help?

My mom is getting frailer, and my dad admits that keeping up with chores around their house is getting to be too much. How can I help my folks decide if it’s time for them to move? I don’t think they can stay in their own home much longer. What are their options? I’m at a loss.

The decision about whether your parents should move is often tricky and emotional. Each family will have its own reasons for wanting (or not wanting) to take such a step. One family may decide a move is right because the parents can no longer manage the home.

For another family, the need for hands-on care in a long-term care facility motivates a change. In some cases, a move frees up cash so that the parent can afford a more suitable situation. For others, the desire to move to a safer location is hampered by a lack of funds to cover the cost of the new home.

In the case of long-distance caregivers, the notion of moving can seem like a solution to the problem of not being close enough to help. For some caregivers, bringing a sick or aging parent to their own home or community can be a viable alternative. Some families decide to have an adult child move back to the parent’s home to become the primary caregiver.

Elderly Senior Home Care Couple AutumnKeep in mind that leaving a home, community, and familiar medical care can be very disruptive and difficult for the older parent, especially if they are not enthusiastic about the change. You might first want to explore what services are available in your parents’ community to help them in their home—including home health care, housekeeping, personal care, and transportation services. Check with your parents’ friends and doctors, a local social worker, senior centers, and other resources in their area and on the internet for possible sources of help.

Older adults and their families have some options when it comes to deciding where to live, but these choices can be limited by factors such as illness, ability to perform activities of daily living (for example, eating, bathing, using the toilet, dressing, walking, and moving from bed to chair), financial resources, and personal preferences. Making a decision that is best for your parent—and making that decision with your parent—can be difficult. Try to learn as much as you can about possible housing options.

Older adults, or those with serious illness, can choose to:

  • stay in their own home or move to a smaller one
  • move to an assisted-living facility
  • move to a long-term care facility
  • move in with another family member

Some families find a conference call is a good way to talk together about the pros and cons of each option. The goal of this call is to come up with a plan that works for everyone, especially your parent. If the decision involves a move for your mom or dad, even from a distance, you could offer to arrange tours of some places for their consideration.

Experts advise families to think carefully before moving an aging adult into an adult child’s home. There are a lot of questions to consider, for example: Is there space in your home? Is someone around to help the older person during the whole day? What are your parents able to do for themselves? What personal care are you willing and able to provide—moving your parent from a chair to a bed or toilet, changing adult diapers, using a feeding tube, for example? What kinds of home care services are available in your community? What kind of specialized medical care is available nearby?

Click here to see the next item in this series:  How do we find a nursing home? 

 Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.


Within Acorn’s service area of Chapel Hill, Durham and surrounding areas in North Carolina (Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Morrisville, Cary, and Apex) the following resources may be especially helpful:

  • Orange County Department on Aging, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, (919) 968-2070
  • Durham Center for Senior Life, 406 Rigsbee Avenue – Suite 202, Durham, North Carolina   27701, (919) 688-8247
  • Chatham County Council on Aging, 365 North Carolina 87, Pittsboro, North Carolina   27312, (919) 542-4512
  • Triangle J Area Agency on Aging, 4307 Emperor Boulevard
- Suite 110, Durham, NC 27703, 919-558-2711
  • Resources for Seniors (Wake County), 1110 Navaho Dr.  – Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27609, 919-872-7933